Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Next Big Knitting Project

I hauled out the Freedom Sweater this evening. It's a lovely dark charcoal gray and would be wonderful to wear with the current icy/rainy weather we're having. The pattern was designed by Jacqueline Olsen by Amazing Threads. Sadly, Amazing Threads has since reorganized itself and doesn't sell the really cool knitting kits that it used to sell. Now I really wish I'd purchased the Tea Trader's Tunic, even if I wasn't sure it would have been particularly flattering to my figure, or the Sumptuous Cashmere Shawl. Fortunately I did purchase the Cascading Cables kit though I suspect it also won't exactly flatter me. Also fortunately, I tend to wear whatever I like, regardless of how flattering or fashionable it may be.

Now back to the sweater. As you can see I have most of the body and part of one sleeve finished. It's a lovely worsted weight wool and should knit up pretty quickly. The stitch pattern is beaded rib and is one of my favorite basic patterns. I actually use it for most of the socks I knit too. The trouble is that I'm not sure I like the gauge at which this sweater is knit. I'd like a bit more drape to the fabric. I already ripped it all out once and increased the needle size, but I'm still not entirely happy with it. It's not bad, but I don't think it's as nice as it could be. I've been working on this sweater since 1999. I'd like to finish it this year, perhaps even before the end of winter! I suspect I'll end up casting on again with a larger needle to see if I like it better.

On the Subject of Ripping Things Out
I think I'll be tearing out the Arrow Lace Socks. They're absolutely gorgeous, but they no longer hold any magic for me. I can't imagine knitting the second sock even if I finish the first. I think the yarn would rather be something else too, which is probably why it keeps causing me to make errors when I knit (I have knit the heel/ankle area three times now). I think it would like to be a highly textured sock, perhaps Eunny Jang's Bayerische socks. In any event, it definitely doesn't want to be Arrow Lace socks.

Yarn Arrival!
The yarn for my Must Have Cardi arrived earlier this week. I wasn't certain I liked the yarn color initially, but it's growing on me. My first impression was that it was a bit muddy and dark, but now I like it though if it was a shade lighter I wouldn't complain. It's just not worth shipping it back only to find out that I don't like the lighter color as much. This color is a bit like a latte and I think it will look great in my sweater.

Now I just have to get a few more projects out of the way first.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Swan Lake is done and even blocked out. (I really need to get some blocking wires if I'm going to keep knitting shawls and, especially, stoles. It would be good to have a straight edge to the straight sides.) Here it is! What's funny is that I got up to the last two rows of the stole on Saturday, then didn't feel like working on it for two days. Go figure.

I wasn't entirely sure how to block the wing and whether or not the "top" edge of it should be straight or have a curve. I think I waffled between both answers. It's not really curved, but it's not really straight either. I'm not sure it'll matter once it is being worn.

Once it's dry, I'll weave in the two ends. For all projects except lace, I weave in the ends before blocking. For lace I'm always worried that the bound off edge will be too tight or too loose. So I wait until after the blocking, when I'm sure it's just right. Now I'll go have some porridge and wait for the bears to come home.

Next Project:
Finishing the Braided Toeholder socks. I realized this past weekend that I have been wearing hand knit socks every day. I think I knew that before, since I only have hand knit socks, unless they're athletic socks and I don't wear athletic socks to work. But this weekend it seemed like I had a LOT of socks in the laundry, so I counted them. I have eleven pair of hand knit socks, plus one pair that needs the toes re-knit. Finishing them, plus the red lace socks and the Braided Toeholders will bring the total up to fourteen. That's two whole weeks of socks! And somehow it just doesn't seem to be quite enough. I don't know if that's the sock yarn stash speaking to me, with it's two dozen pair of unknit socks, or if I just want to shoot for a nice round number, like 30.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Slow and Steady Progress

I'm not knitting like lightning, but I'm still plugging away at Swan Lake. I'm up to row 169 now, out of 192. I have a couple good audiobooks on the computer, about six new DVDs and no big plans for the weekend, other than the usual gaming on Sunday afternoon and working out. I have no reason to not get at least ten rows done tomorrow and maybe 5 done on Sunday.

Must Have Cardigan Plan
Remember the cardi I decided to knit for myself? I finally ordered the pattern and yarn at the beginning of the week. I decided that the cream colored Patons Classic Wool I bought in Chicago wasn't quite what the sweater wanted to be. Now I've got the same yarn in a dark natural mix, which I think will look much nicer than the plain cream color. I had hoped that the yarn would arrive by today, but since I'm not ready to start it yet, I can wait a few more days.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

No actual spinning done

But I did decide that I needed to definitely not knit for a day. (Thanks for the extra nudge that way Raenwa!) Though I did ply two bobbins worth of merino 3-ply worsted and pre-drafted a bunch of merino-tencel from Blue Moon Fiber Arts in the color Sea. I have just under 7 ounces of roving. I bought this stuff several years at the Fleece Fair in Greencastle, IN. I remember thinking the colors were spectacular at the time and it reminded me of mermaids even before I noticed the color was labeled Sea. I'm not as wild about the colors now, but it's still very pretty and still reminds me of mermaids.

I split the roving lengthwise into five pieces and am pre-drafting it. Each of the five original pieces has been divided into three shorter pieces to make it easier to handle but I'm keeping them all in the same order to keep the color changes consistent between the five original lengths.
The colors are quite dark in the compressed roving (photo #1), but lighten up quite a bit when drafted out (photo #2). I like the lighter colors better. When I purchased this fiber, I wanted to make sock yarn from it. I was considering a two-ply fingering weight, but think I'll go with three-ply fingering weight for extra durability.

We'll see how long I can focus my attention on the spinning. I have a tendency to get most of the singles spun and then lose momentum before getting the plying finished, thus never quite getting the spinning/knitting project finished. Now that I have an actual endpoint (sock yarn) determined, I might actually be able to get there.

So tomorrow I'll knit a couple rows of Swan Lake and then spin for a while.

Friday, January 18, 2008

KAL woes

I'm presently a member of two shawl/stole KALs: Spring Shawl Surprice [sic] and Secret of the Stole II. The former is now on its third clue (and looks gorgeous), while the latter had its first clue posted today. Each of them takes 1500-1600 meters of lace weight yarn. Both should be knit in a solid-colored, non-fuzzy yarn. The color is recommended to be "earth-toned" for the stole and wide open, except perhaps for black, on the Spring Shawl.

The "woe" is merely that I haven't got any yarn suitable for these projects. The lace weight yarn I actually have in my stash are either short on yardage or are too thin/light weight. You see, the recommended yarns are 4000-6000 yards per pound. The yarns for which I have sufficient yardage are 11,000-12,000 yards per pound. While these yarns are beautiful, they are far too thin to work well in these patterns. I do have one yarn which would work, but it's 100% cotton and I can't decide if that fiber would work well in a lace shawl that will need to be blocked hard.

So I have two choices. I could wait to knit these patterns or I could find other suitable yarns and order them SOON! It wouldn't break the budget to buy shawl/stole yarn. I'm considering KnitPicks' lace yarns as possible candidates, but so far I'm not feeling the magic for either of the projects or the yarn colors.

Swan Lake Update
Perhaps by the time I finish the last 86 rows of Swan Lake I'll have a decision made. I've really been hammering through Swan Lake, while listening to Ender's Shadow. I think I'm getting a little burned out on knitting though since I've been knitting for three or more hours each night this week. And now I'm facing a three day weekend during which I figured I'd spend a good-sized chunk of it knitting. Maybe not. I dunno. Part of me really wants to crank out the Swan Lake soon, but part of me wants a change of pace. Like maybe spinning something instead of knitting.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Swan Lake Progress!!

I have finished the first half of clue six. I am now up to row 99! The second half of clue 6 will get me up to row 149. Clue 7, the final clue, goes to row 191. It seems quite easy to get ten rows done in an evening. Well, at least it was easy to get ten rows done last night and another five so far this evening. I might actually get this finished by the end of January!! That would be good because one shawl KAL I'm in has already started and a second one starts around January 18th. :-)

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Commencing Movie Knitting!

The Bridge on the River Kwai is on TCM this evening. Given that I simply cannot let the opportunity to watch Sir Alec Guinness go insane pass me by, I'll spend the evening watching and knitting. I believe I'll work on Swan Lake while I drink my tea and absorb a bit of British properness. (I think I will try to get 10 rows of Swan Lake knit each week until it's complete, otherwise it may languish in its little basket for months.)

It has also occurred to me that I do not have a tea cozy small enough for my little tea pot. That might be a good use for my first ball of lumpy handspun from years and years ago. I think I might even be able to find that ball of yarn fairly easily.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

A Century! \o/

I haven't got much to report, but this is the 100th post to my knitting blog. Yay!

I did start another chemo cap knit out of Lion Brand Homespun. If I can find sufficient brain entertainment this evening, I might even finish it. The chemo cap lady has already had her head shaved since her hair started coming out in clumps shortly after her first treatment. I don't know if the first hat still fits with less hair under it, but I figure a 2nd hat won't be unwelcome. You can't just have only a blue hat in your wardrobe, after all. (Note: this is just my theory and I haven't got any sort of fashion/wardrobe sense, so take it with a grain of salt.)

The Impending Cabled Cardigan
In thinking more and more about the Must Have Cardi that I will be knitting for myself. I'm not sure the cream-colored yarn is quite the color for this sweater. It has occurred to me that perhaps the naturally colored handspun I produced about ten years ago might be perfect for it, if I can meet gauge. And as long as we're on the subject of this cardi, I have to note that the Yarn Harlot is knitting this very sweater at the moment. Of course she'll finish it way before I will, if for no other reason than that I haven't even gotten around to buying the pattern yet.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Ok, so there was knitting

Just after I wrote that I didn't feel like knitting I picked up my sock and finished the ribbing on it. Now I'm ready for the leg. (It was only a couple of rounds of knitting, so it's not like I did very much.)

Tonight I feel like knitting, but I can't decide between the Swan Lake Stole and the sock. The sock would go faster and also be more mindless. I can't decide if I'm up to handling knitting that I have to think about yet, but I do want to get Swan Lake off the needles soon. I think I probably need to stick to mindless. Between the cough syrup and the end-of-day brain drain, lace knitting would be a baaaaaaaaad idea.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

More No Knitting

It's official. I'm sick. I even stayed home from work today. I spent half of last night coughing myself silly and decided that a) I didn't need to take my viruses to work for others to share and b) that if I was tired enough to need a nap after taking a shower I really didn't have the energy to go to work. So I didn't. I didn't have the slightest urge to even look at knitting. That might have required moving too much.

Part of me says to not go to work tomorrow and have another long weekend to recuperate. Part of me says I'll go stir crazy if I don't do that and would also feel guilty for taking the day off. We'll see how rested I feel in the morning and if the newly developing headache goes away.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Hat for the Small-Headed

Well, I finished the Unoriginal Hat by Yarn Harlot. It looks good but it's way too small for the intended recipient. It's not only smaller in circumference than it needs to be, it's also too short. It barely comes to the top of my ears when I stuff my big head into it. I think it would be annoyingly snug on a bald head and lead to skin irritation and pain. I'm trying to decide if I want to try it again with another repeat added or not. It was a pretty easy hat to knit and it knit up quickly.

Knitting plan for New Year's Day

Well, I thought about working on either the Swan Lake Stole or my lonely remaining sock. There's a hitch in this plan. I have a bad cold at the moment and I feel pretty crummy. My head hurts, my throat hurts and there is an ocean of goo running from somewhere in my head down into my stomach, which my stomach doesn't particularly appreciate. The end result is that I'm fussy and not particularly tuned in to details. Obviously that means the stole is a bad choice of things to work on today. I'm not sure the sock would be any better a choice. What I really need is some sort of mindless garter stitch monstrosity. Of course, that would probably be too boring and merely contribute to the fussiness. Ugh. I hate being sick, especially when it's a holiday. I don't like to waste my holidays like that. I may end up playing computer games for most of the afternoon. That's a semi-mindless activity.